Walter Hermsen is North's Head of Product
Spotify Music Control, Real-Time Transit, Better Meetings & More Now on Focals
When we launched Focals in October, we released them with a carefully chosen set of experiences: Text messaging, turn-by-turn directions, the ability to call and track an Uber, Amazon Alexa, day-to-day updates and more.
We designed these features to give you access to your digital world without pulling you away from what’s in front of you - each experience carefully built to be immediate and glanceable. We believe that your line-of-sight should remain in your control, so we are very thoughtful about how and where we add to it. Our goal is to help bring you peace of mind - to separate the signal from the digital noise.
Over the past months, we’ve continued to roll out and test new experiences. The latest - music control for Spotify - just came out on Tuesday. We’re delivering new functionality for carefully selected situations, and are super keen to see and hear how everyone is using these new capabilities. Based on customer feedback, we’ll improve on what's working, and sometimes remove what isn't.
Our customers receive updates live, but for everyone who hasn’t purchased Focals , we figured you might want to see some of the updates we’ve made since launch.
This first set of updates is designed for busy professionals - those who want control over their digital lives whether they’re in meetings, commuting or just listening to a playlist at their desk.
Control Music with a Thought
Music control has been on our wish list for a while, so we’re excited to be rolling this one out (it was also requested in The Verge’s popular video review of Focals). We’ve plugged into Spotify Connect, giving you the ability to skip songs, see the title/artist and adjust the volume of connected devices like your phone or speakers — right from your Focals. It works even when the display is off, just using Loop. Note: some of these features are limited to Spotify Premium subscribers.
Heads up exploration has always been part of Focals. Users can find points of interest around them, and navigate to them with turn-by-turn directions or call an Uber without pulling out their phone. Exploration is great, but sometimes you have a meeting to get to at the office and just don’t want to miss your bus.
With our new transit updates, Focals will suggest the quickest transit route for your morning and nightly commute, as well as show you any delays and let you share an ETA with your contacts. These types of contextual experiences are an area we’d like to continue to build out - finding ways to deliver you the right information at the right time.
Run Better Meetings
If you're a bit behind schedule, you can now use Focals to let meeting organizers and attendees know you'll be late or you can't make it. A few nudges of your Loop and your teammates get an email - no need to go digging through Slack.
We’ve also built in a feature called Rewind for easier note taking during meetings. You can enable Rewind at the start of a meeting to ditch the pen and paper and use Loop to capture notes using your voice. After the meeting, you'll receive an email from North with your Rewind notes - both audio and a text transcript.
Share Your Focals Experience
As Focals are custom-made to the exact specifications of each wearer, it can be tricky to take them off, hand them to your friends and give them a glimpse of the display. Furthermore, holographic displays don’t film or photograph very well. So we came up with a new way to let everyone else see what you’re seeing.
Lenscast places your Focals display on top of your smartphone's live camera feed, making it easy to demonstrate what you see when you use Focals and how the display hovers in front of your surroundings. You can now show off what you’re seeing, just be careful not to get any private or top-secret messages while sharing your display!
That’s it for now. We’ve got more coming soon. Have a feature suggestion or feedback on the above? Let us know: email@example.com